Friday, November 9, 2012

Tall Jointweed - Polygonella gracilis



Tall jointweed (Polygonella gracilis) occurs statewide and in the other states of the Deep South.  This member of the buckwheat family shares an affinity for sunny well-drained habitats and has a simple beauty all its own.  Tall jointweed is decidedly tall and graceful.  As an annual, this means it grows rapidly in the spring to achieve its mature height of 5-6 feet tall. 
Tall jointweed produces an extremely thin wiry stem with short side branches. The thin leaves, alternate along the stem, are sparse except near the base of the plant.
Flowering occurs in fall - sometimes into late November.  The tiny capsule-shaped white blooms are clustered at the ends of each stem in racemes about 1 inch long.  Each flower is no more than 1/8 inch in length.
This distinctive wildflower can hardly be confused with any other.  In the open sandy places where it prospers, tall jointweed often occurs in large colonies.  This is not a wildflower likely to be cultivated by commercial nurseries or in great demand by the home gardener.  As an annual, it is difficult to grow for sale to the public and in the landscape it needs open sandy soil to reseed effectively. Nevertheless, this species has a special charm and I look forward to seeing it each fall as I hike the state. 

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